Father Lawrence Biondi to Step Down Sept. 1: "I Leave SLU in A Very Strong Position"

via slu.edu
Father Lawrence Biondi.
At a Saturday night gala in May, Father Lawrence Biondi, the embattled president of Saint Louis University, announced that he would be stepping down -- after many months of protests and high-profile resignations. Immediately after the announcement, questions lingered about when Biondi would actually retire as president and make way for the new leadership his growing group of critics have sought.

On Friday, SLU announced that Biondi will step down effective September 1 -- sooner than some anticipated.

"Over the summer I decided that the time is right for me to retire," Biondi says in a statement. "While I will miss the mission, work and activity of the University, I am also looking forward to new challenges that lie ahead for me. I leave SLU in a very strong position, and I look forward to continuing to provide input to the Board as it searches for my permanent successor."

See also:
- Father Lawrence Biondi Is Stepping Down as Saint Louis University President
- Biondi Says "We Share a Common Goal," Amid Renewed Calls for His Resignation
- Prof. Matthew Hall Criticizes Lawrence Biondi; Trustees Call Him Immature Liar

Biondi, who has held the position for more than 25 years, will be stepping down just about one full year after faculty overwhelmingly voted no-confidence in him, paving the way for months of steady controversy.

The news comes from Saint Louis University Board of Trustees Chairman J. Joe Adorjan who says that Biondi made the decision to step down next month. He will be named president emeritus and will take a one-year sabbatical from the university.

via slu.edu
William Kauffman.

"Father Biondi has let me know of his desire to make a change and to help us transition to interim leadership as we begin the search for the next president of SLU this fall," Adorjan says in a statement. "I have the greatest respect and admiration for Father Biondi and for all that he has done for SLU, and I am hopeful that as we soon begin the search for his successor that he can continue to provide his knowledge and insight to the Board. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Father for giving so much of himself to make SLU the outstanding and respected institution it is."

Adorjan sent a letter to faculty, students and staff on Friday announcing the change and noting that William Kauffman -- who is SLU's vice president and general counsel -- will be stepping up as interim president for the coming academic year. He will not be a candidate for the presidency, Adorjan says.

Kauffman has been SLU's general counsel since 1995 and also serves as secretary to the board of trustees.

Kauffman made headlines earlier this year when, as general counsel, he threatened Steven Harris, a professor in the department of math and computer science, with legal action after Harris distributed a faculty survey on Biondi. The American Association of University Professors slammed the threat, which, Kauffman brought forward on copyright infringement grounds.

via Facebook / SLU Students for No Confidence
Biondi protesters.

SLU will soon establish a search committee of trustees, faculty, staff and students and formally launch the process of finding a new president after September 28.

This latest announcement comes just weeks after faculty accused the president of punishing those who opposed him with reductions in salary increases.

Binodi addressed those accusations in a Post-Dispatch op-ed, saying, "It is important to note that no one's salary was cut this year and that all of the faculty members who are complaining received salary increases, although they may not have received what they desired or what they think they deserved.... Overall, Saint Louis University is providing approximately $13.4 million in salary increases this year. And, let's be clear: Out of SLU's more than 4,200 full-time faculty and staff, there are complaints from about 16 people, or just about one-third of one percent."

He concluded that piece, published just a week before his resignation date was announced, saying, "Enough of the drama! Enough of the theater!"

From our coverage back in May, here's footage of Biondi announcing his retirement (with the news dropped at the 13:50 mark):

And here's the full letter from Adorjan.

Message From the Chairman of the SLU Board of Trustees

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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James Madison
James Madison

I guess you never read the First Amendment. It prohibits Congress (our governments) from restricting free speech. It also makes our freedom to assemble (or not to assemble) guaranteed. And our freedom from having the government establishing a State religion. Therefore, we were free to associate with Fr. Biondi, or not. We are free to join the Catholic Church or not. All free form the government interference. Once one chooses to assemble with the Catholic Church, obedience is a keystone to the religion. Even in the Church there is free speech, but one ought to do it by the protocol of the Church. To do otherwise is disrespectful to all the establish of the Church. I am certain Fr. Biondi completely agrees with the tenets of the First Amendment that our government should restrict itself from interfering in these matters of the Church.

Ed G. Kashon
Ed G. Kashon

That's a surprising opinion from you, James, considering how little respect he had for the free speech element of your prized First Amendment.

James Madison
James Madison

Father Biondi has done much good for SLU, and so many bitter fools seem to forget that. That many had a political disagreement with him, they forced an intolerable situation. the next SLU President will face a huge problem, not of Father Biondi's making but of the faculty wanting to have disobedience part of the scholarly program at SLU. If they succeed, SLU will never improve. It will be drained of its endowment, and the last faculty member will be saying it was Biondi's fault. From this day forth, it cannot be Biondi's fault for the decline that will happen. The faculty owns the decision, and the faculty will be to blame. I'm not talking short term, but long term. When disobedience is the clear message, why should the students even listen to their professors when the professors have chosen not to listen to their president? the Faithful at SLU will dwindle. Alumni will realize this new SLU is not he SLU where they graduated. Funds will not come in as they did before. Within ten years, SLU will be selling assets. In 20 years, the protesting professors will be gone, but their damage will have been done. The next president needs to run SLU for the Faithful, not for the professors to chalk up bigger salaries.

Robert A. West
Robert A. West

It will only be good for SLU if they find the proper replacement. At least they have that opportunity, now.

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